We have been hoping and waiting for this since we first saw his wrecked cage in the pilot for “The Flash,” and now it’s here, no, now he is here… Grodd. Find a place to hide, guard your mind, and meet me after the jump for my review of “Grodd Lives!”
Super Gorilla Grodd
In the comics, Grodd is perhaps the most powerful creature born on this planet. He has fought the Justice League of America more than once, he’s gone toe to toe with Superman, and engaged in hand to hand combat with Kalibak, son of Darkseid. Dangerous and formidable, even without his super powers, he is still a larger than normal gorilla who could tear an opponent apart or literally bite their face off. And he has a very special hatred for the Barry Allen Flash.
Born deep in the jungles of Africa in a shielded and advanced city of super-intelligent apes, Grodd was the black sheep, the rebel child. He wanted nothing more than to unseat Solovar, the peaceful leader of the apes and rule Gorilla City as its absolute ruler. Then when he saw the vast world of mankind outside he wanted to rule that too. I am simplifying things quite a bit, but there you go, how much simpler can you get than a super-intelligent gorilla with telepathy, telekinesis, and the power to dominate minds. He is along with the Reverse-Flash, one of the few recurring Flash villains not to be a member of Flash’s Rogues Gallery. He does not play well with others.
We open with our usual voiceover intro by Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, but quickly it’s followed by one by Candice Patton as Iris West. Her dynamic as an actress and character in the show has changed completely between last episode and this one. Although teased more than once, she now knows that Barry is The Flash. As with all situations like this, it’s a matter of trust, and protecting loved ones from danger, but let’s face it, folks, in the real world, when you have a secret identity, you’re living a double life, and somewhere along the way, you are a liar.
Iris takes this kinda hard, and not just because it’s Barry who’s been lying to her, but because pretty much, everyone she knows has been lying to her. It is like the worst kind of being cheated on – when you are the last person to know it’s going on. We’re talking about one of those cases where it’s not paranoid when everyone is out to get you. It may take a long time for Iris to trust any of these people again. Patton steps up easily to this new role, where she should have been since the beginning, in my opinion.
Before Iris makes her dramatic appearance at S.T.A.R. Labs to confront Barry that she knows he’s the Flash, the team is being confounded by a new problem while they search for the Reverse-Flash and the kidnapped Eddie. There’s a new costumed menace in town, this one wearing some sort of golden facemask and enacting gold robberies. Comics fanboys and fangirls all start pondering who it could be based on the appearance of said villain and the type of crimes being committed. It’s a fun guessing game.
Could it be Goldface, maybe Mr. Element, or even Doctor Alchemy? And let’s not mention for simplicity’s sake that those last two are the same person. When the Flash arrives to foil one of the robberies he’s affected by some sort of mental attack, something inducing fear. Once apprehended and placed in the Pipeline, Team Flash and viewers alike are treated to a surprise (unless of course you saw his name in the opening credits), it’s Clancy Brown’s General Eiling, battered, but still alive.
Grodd Hate Banana
Now is where it gets kinda creepy, and the showrunners makes innovative live action use of Grodd’s powers. Grodd is speaking through Eiling, like Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist, just without the pea soup, a frightening effect, as if a nine foot tall gorilla stalking the sewers of the city wasn’t scary enough. At least Grodd knows who he should be loyal to, a leftover from his time in a cage at S.T.A.R., but he also remembers how he was tortured by Eiling – these are the images he inflicts on victims via his mental attacks.
A disastrous trip into the sewers, with a slight “Doctor Who” vibe that had me thinking of being hunted by Yeti in the London Underground in “Web of Fear,” comes next in which Joe is captured by Grodd. The special effects for Grodd are impressive, and everything I would have hoped for. I remember the 1990s “Flash” series where Grodd was re-imagined offscreen as a 1950s gangster because the special effects of the time could not manage anything better than a guy in a gorilla suit. I am so happy it’s 2015, and Grodd lives on my TV set, just as I imagined him.
The soap opera is strong in this episode, what with all of the Iris stuff, but I think it’s worth it. She is an excellent addition to Team Flash as I mentioned above. In fact, it is Iris who pulls Barry out of Grodd’s thrall to let a train whack the big gorilla. She did what neither Cisco nor Caitlin could do – their love is one that transcends time and space, life and death, after all. Iris also has it out with her father as well over trust, and is glad to have him back at the end. Some trust is won easier than others.
Barry and Iris may not mend as easily. The McGuffin is of course Eddie’s safety. If Flash saves Eddie, she goes back to him, and if he doesn’t save him, Iris will probably never speak to Barry again. A frightening thought occurred to me while Wells taunted Eddie this episode, what if Team Flash sacrificed Eddie to ensure the Thawne bloodline never happens, and Eobbard Thawne is never born? It may be a way out and a very desperate measure… and one I’m not sure Iris would ever survive…
Next: The Flash, The Arrow, and Firestorm vs. the Reverse-Flash? But whose side are the Rogues on?